The economic case for improving air quality in Kigali, Rwanda

Poor urban air quality is increasingly recognised as a cause of premature mortality. With transport contributing significantly to poor urban air quality in Kigali, it is therefore critical for research to be developed to better understand the options for policymakers.

The Rwandan government has recently announced an ambition to electrify mobility in the country by improving air quality as a key rationale. A clear set of policies, however, have yet to be developed and the evidence base to inform policymaking is still lacking.

Combining city-level transport and economic modelling from the University of Leeds with air quality testing and monitoring done under the Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA), this project seeks to develop the evidence base to support the development of specific policies that bridge the needs of cleaner air, reduced GHG emissions, and improved mobility.

The project contains two parts. The first will use data collected by Egide Kalisa during a COVID-19 lockdown experiment with cars and motorbikes during traffic to understand their impact on air quality and air quality on economic outcomes. We will also use data collected on Kigali’s ‘car free days’ – a period during which traffic is stopped on certain major roads – to measure the impact on air quality and the subsequent economic impact of air quality improvement. The second part depicts the impact of the lockdown on air quality, while demonstrating the benefits of ‘car free days’ for air quality in Kigali.


  • Publication - Policy paper

    From car-free days to pollution-free cities: Reflections on clean urban transport in Rwanda

    East Africa is home to some of the world’s fastest growing cities and levels of traffic congestion, air pollution, and vehicle accidents are rising. Rwanda, with its rapidly growing urbanisation rate, faces a major challenge: to decouple the growth of cities and urban mobility from air pollution. Using high-quality data, this policy paper adds to existing research...

    3 Aug 2021 | Egide Kalisa, Andrew Sudmant, Remy Ruberambuga, Jonathan Bower